Wednesday, October 20, 2010

When Laughter Goes Terribly, Terribly Wrong


Actually, I’m just spoofing because aside from occasions where it might be inappropriate to laugh, a good howl can be beneficial to you.

Laughing inappropriately can be a problem for some people but it can be highly entertaining for the rest of us.

These days research has been done on the beneficial aspects of laughter and it is becoming widely known how laughter can heal us of many ills.
Here is an article about the benefits of laughter and how it can improve your life.
The Healing Touch of Laughter  by Catherine Cosgrove
We’ve all heard “laughter is the best medicine”, but it’s no longer just a saying. For the past several years, “laughter therapy” has grown from an odd idea to a tool for helping get over addiction, depression, stress and many other mental health and physical issues.
Also known as “humor therapy”, laughter therapy was developed in 1972 by Hunter ‘Patch” Adams at the Gesundheit Institute (yes, that’s a real name) located in Virginia, USA. Robin Williams played the good doctor in Patch Adams, a true story about the founding of the Institute. Since 1972, the idea that humor can heal the body, mind and soul has spread across several areas of medical study, as well as over five countries.
Therapists in the United States offer laughter therapy as a way to relieve tension and help you talk about your problems. Laughter groups in India meet to laugh before going to work. Group laughter therapy sessions are lightening lives in the United Kingdom. Even in Korea, where the culture praises solemnity and keeping emotions inside, laughter therapy has taken its place in the medical communities.

Humor Studies
Like any form of therapy, whether medical or mental, laughter therapy has had its share of research and studies. “The proof is in the pudding” as some people say, and laughter therapy has made plenty of “pudding”. Henri Rubenstein, a French neurologist, says one minute of laughing can produce up to forty-five minutes of relaxation.
Studying the effects of laughter on the body, French doctor Pierre Vachet found that laughter causes the blood vessels to expand. In turn, this allows more blood to move toward extremities and sends oxygen throughout the body’s cells. It can speed up tissue healing and stabilize body functions. Studies have also shown that watching funny shows produce a feeling of well-being.

Laughing Away Your Troubles
The benefits of a belly laugh have produced amazing results in many medical and therapeutic fields. Several drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers have added laughter therapy to their program because of those results, and the number is rising.
Cocaine addicts, thought to be unable to naturally produce endorphins, have been able to do otherwise physically painful activities simply by having a good chuckle beforehand. Addicts and alcoholics alike have found that being able to laugh, finding humor in their lives, actually helps them like themselves again.
Likewise, stress therapy specialists have found that learning to laugh at ones problems helps relieve the stress of sharing them. Laughter reduces the level of cortisol, which is produced in high stress situations.
In the medical arenas, laughter has even helped heal severe diseases. The late editor of The Saturday Review, Norman Cousins, had a serious disease that was causing his body to waste away. Doctors thought nothing could cure him, but he disagreed. Cousins checked himself out of the hospital, took large doses of vitamin C and watched comedies.

Although only given a few months to live, Cousins regained the use of his limbs and steadily improved – enough so, in fact, that he was able to return to work full-time. Several years later, he had a near-fatal heart attack. Instead of taking morphine, Cousins made sure he got plenty of rest and heavy doses of laughter. Once again, he improved enough to go back to work.

With all the benefits of taking time out to chuckle, it’s no wonder that laughter therapy is growing so rapidly. From diseases to disabilities, from stress to addiction, its healing abilities have worked beyond initial expectations. If an apple a day keeps the doctor a way, taking the time to laugh can do much, much more.


Catherine Cosgrove is the Clinical Director of Heritage Home Foundation alcohol and drug rehab Center offers a tranquil and therapeutic environment to begin your recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. Heritage home’s team has worked together in drug rehab for many years and will give you a personal, unique, and individualized approach to emotional healing and sobriety. Catherine Cosgrove is also an addictions-specialist psychotherapist with over 20 years experience in the field. Prior to founding Heritage Home, Catherine was the Clinical Director of a residential substance-abuse facility for seven years, where she treated federal inmates prior to release into the community. She is a drug rehab specialist.


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